Published On: Thursday, 10 August 2017
Comox Valley Tax Neutral Civic Centre Alternative Approval Process Ends August 18
COMOX VALLEY - On July 6th the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) began its Alternative Approval Process (AAP) for the tax neutral Civic Centre regional office building. The process will be running until 4:30PM on August 18, 2017.
The CVRD office is an extremely important aspect of CVRD operations, offering essential services to residents (water, sewer, parks, recreation and solid waste operations) and housing key assets including IT infrastructure, fleet and corporate records.
The current office is problematic due to its flood prone location, inadequate space and expensive lease cost of approximately $330,000 per year. Instead of paying the lease, the funds will be redirected towards a debt repayment similar to a mortgage payment. There is no tax increase to residents and the CVRD would own a community asset that is not subject to property taxes.
AAPs are a democratic, widely used method to obtain public support to borrow funds and develop services. Government organizations utilize this method as the costs to run are approximately $4,000 versus a referendum that costs over $40,000 in the Comox Valley.
As well, an AAP process provides a longer response period of typically 30 days for residents to submit forms if they are opposed to the project, instead of the set days and times of a referendum. In order to use an AAP it requires approval from the province as strict rules guide its use and has legal requirements for notifying the public regarding its use.
Until 4:30PM on August 18th eligible electors who oppose the project may submit an elector response form to the CVRD. Forms are available from the CVRD office located at 600 Comox Road, Courtenay, BC during regular office hours 8:30AM to 4:30PM Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) or from the CVRD website.
Original signed elector response forms can be dropped off during regular business hours or mailed. Emailed or faxed copies cannot be accepted.
On August 21st, the chief election officer will count the number of submitted forms. If this group makes up more than 10 per cent of the total number of eligible electors in the area, in this case 5055, then the matter is considered opposed by the public and the board will have to conduct a referendum if it still wishes to proceed.
If less than 10 per cent of the residents in the area submit forms against the matter, then the board can consider moving forward, adopt the bylaw and proceed with the project. Prior to awarding the construction contract, the CVRD will be confirming the project is affordable and will complete a detailed analysis of the operating costs to ensure the project remains tax neutral.